Friday, April 26, 2013

Curbside Veggies. In Arkansas?!

This is not a post about frugal living. Nor is it about Oklahoma, although very close to us. This is about accidentally discovering a place that is a gem of a sustainable restaurant model where veggies are vogue. Last weekend we went to a family wedding in Fayetville, Arkansas. And thanks to Urban Spoon, I stumbled upon a little green restaurant called The Greenhouse Grille. The building was actually green and it was very near to the University on one of the busiest streets in town in one of the most modern and chic shopping centers in town. No wasted space here. Even their green islands in their parking lot were overflowing with edibles. (This is also an important type of space cities need to utilize as bioretention sites to prevent waste water runoff in parking lots)

Their front space was not adorned with purposeless plants like Asian bradford pears or azaleas but with strawberries bounding out to greet me, asparagus crowns towering up, fennel fanning out, parsley making a landing pad for sleepy butterflies, and Swiss chard sporting it's rainbow style. Their side space had more veggies and peas dutifully standing at attention and in the back they had several raised beds about fifteen by four inside of a mini hoop house. Let's go back to these gardens of yore because doing so would be really a victory. Wow! Talk about curb appeal, talk about fresh to my plate. This is the kind of thing I have read about at sites like Alice Waters Chez Panisse world famous restaurant and would encounter snippets of when I lived in Santa Barbara, but to see such a restaurant model in the mid-west in an area dominated by businesses making everything bigger and outsourced from as far as possible- one does clucks and one is the biggest retail world within our world-was refreshing.

Additionally Greenhouse Grille sources their meats, veggies, and grains from other local producers. Including the War Eagle Mill, which is an outstanding historical fieldtrip in itself. They also actively work to support local musicians and to abate local hunger in an area that is cursed with simultaneously being the richest and the poorest region in Arkansas. And what better way to abate hunger than to start from the ground up. And yet, many cities outlaw front yards that could contribute to the hunger solution or provide an ecological stopover for native birds and butterflies. Our cousins outside of Joplin told me that their mowing ordinance is to keep their grass at one inch or less- oy!

Does your city allow veggies to be front and center in urban landscapes, yards, and businesses? Do you and your city use your urban land to it's maximum potential, especially as one acre of viable farmland is lost every minute to urban sprawl in this country? What acts of gardening civil disobedience have you or your neighbors performed secretly or overtly? How do we tell our city commissioners and home owner's associations that we deserve the freshest food for our forks and spaces reclaimed from the tyranny of bermuda grass and japanese honeysuckle?

Tell them we need veggies front and center.

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